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How event partnerships can evolve the industry

By Steven Scaffardi, Event Director for ad:tech London at CloserStill Media

In the 15 years I have worked in the publishing and events industry, it never ceases to amaze me how little we all want to help each other out. Instead we vie for partners, sponsors, speakers and delegates while attempting to scale to be the next Cannes Lions. But this sort of fierce competition, and an ‘us against them’ mentality, is no longer viable in the modern age. 

At the heart of any great event, and of course conferences especially, is great content. We are all striving to deliver an educational and inspirational agenda that sparks debate, provokes new ideas and addresses the current issues and insights of the day. But in an industry such as the one I operate in, which has become saturated with events, it starts to become a real challenge to guarantee that your agenda programme will be unique, or that you’ll be able to avoid replicating content that will appear at an event two weeks before yours.

Of course, there will be some differences, but the key trends and topics are unlikely to change drastically over the course of a few months. The big-name speakers that appear at our events rarely change their presentations too much from conference to conference, and suddenly you find yourself replicating content that has gone before or will go again.

That isn’t very good for your attendees, and it is certainly not very good for your sponsors and partners. I have been told previously by attendees that seeing an almost identical presentation at more than one event is frustrating, and it has a negative impact on your event as well as the speaker delivering the content. The last thing you want for a valued contact or, even worse, a paying sponsor is to suffer from that adverse effect. 

Most client conversations I have revolve around words such as consistency, longevity, value, strategy, partnerships. Clients don’t necessarily care which media company is running an event or conference. What they care about is that their core objectives and messaging reach the target audience and that this is carried out and delivered in the most effective way. The only people who care about who runs an event is us, the event organisers – fighting the good fight of safeguarding those revenues.

Whilst discussing just how saturated the events market is with the CEO of the Festival of Media Jeremy King, we decided to create a partnership between our two events. And at the heart of this partnership is a genuine desire to promote great content that features on our stages, making sure it has a bigger and longer life span than two days, and working together to make sure we move the conversation forward from event to event. By partnering together, we will share topics and speakers that have resonated with our audiences and target existing audiences with a different angle from those content sessions, as well as exposing new audiences to those excellent unmissable sessions.

We believe that great content should not be confined to the two days of our events. That it is our responsibility to drive the debate forward and amplify those conversations that take place at our conference theatres. This promotes a progressive continuation of debate and not resting on our laurels by putting the same content on stage that you see at other industry events time and time again. I like to think this shows that ad:tech London and Festival of Media are genuinely putting the people who attend and sponsor our events first by working together like this.


Steven Scaffardi works for CloserStill Media and is the event director for this year’s ad:tech London on 26-27 September, which will co-locate with Technology for Marketing (TFM) and eCommerce Expo to form the country’s largest marketplace for advertising and marketing technology. He has spent the past decade working with international clients in the media, marketing and advertising sector, specialising in high end premium conferences and a unique skill set of selling and running B2B festivals, such as Festival of Media and the Festival of Marketing.